28 January 2023

Fine Art Nude vs Erotic Nude vs Porn


You may want to grab a cup and have a seat for this one.

So the question is: Are there any distinct differences between Fine Art Nude, Erotic Nude, and Pornography? Yes, I believe so. However, I think the lines are heavily blurred and may be situation dependent. Often they do not fit neatly into one box or the other. Depending on the composition in question, it may fit into TWO boxes, or even all 3, although no particular image comes to mind that does that. I've talked about Nude vs Naked on my blog before, but this is not that. Opinions will vary, to be sure. People raised and educated in one place/culture will differ from another.

Classic Fine Art Nude

Fine Art Nude

Fine Art Nude is a genre of art that is considered more palatable for most people as it is usually presented in a traditional, conservative, or reserved way. It might have an element of "timelessness" to it. It can be broken down into Classic/Traditional or Modern/Contemporary. The nudity aspects may be implied, as in no breast or genitalia is ever exposed via strategic means of covering all that, but you know the subject is not clothed. Whenever you hear the term "tasteful", it will often fall into this category. 

This will usually be a woman and the subjects thighs might be together, have a twist in their hips, or any such pose that protects the private area with a bit of modesty. Fine Art doesn't have to mean old and it doesn't have to be created by a master artist, but will normally refer to a painting more than a photograph. If it's a male subject, it will usually demonstrate a version of the perfect male physique.

Modern Fine Art Nudes may be more subjective in nature in that some will still consider it pornographic and/or obscene no matter, particularly if it's photography. Paintings or any media that isn't true to life might get a pass. The breasts may be exposed and everything else will likely adhere to classic standards. Poses are usually depicted in a demur or goddess manner. Attention is not necessarily drawn to the nudity, but maybe the pose, the beauty of the subject, or the circumstances of the composition. It could be a scene of a nude subject in a domestic setting showing her backside getting dressed. Or possibly a topless figure performing ballet. Nudes for Anatomy Studies might also fit here.

Fine Art/Erotic Nude

Erotic Nude

This is where I've hit the mud in several debates if I contest or dispute people's assessment by classifying something as erotic photography or erotica. This is where the line begins to significantly blur. For me, the only real difference between Fine Art Nude and Erotic Nude is the possible inclusion of genitalia or the suggestion of sensuality or sexuality. Said bluration stems from the fact that while genitals may be exposed, it could still be fine art, but maybe more contemporary. 

Understand, we're talking about erotic nudes. Not erotica in general. In general terms, erotica does not even have to involve nudity whatsoever. It may just inspire sensuality or even arousal without exposing anything. Nudity is not a requirement. Concerning nudes, however, if there is any focus on the genitalia... in that the composition intentionally draws the eyes towards it, then definitely erotic/erotica. Creative lighting, depth of field, macro techniques, OR use of the hand on or near the genitalia brings you squarely into the erotic box. However, the kicker for me is this: Nudity, inclusive of genitalia or not... inclusive of sensuality or not... does not in and of itself describe sexual intent. I learned this in German as a young man: NUDITY does not equal SEX.

Definitely Erotic Nude. Doesn't fit my description of pornography in the following paragraph. 

Pornography

And now you have the real line. Nudity is one thing. Sex is another. Now let me ask this. Can something express intent for sexual desire without being pornographic? Of course, it can. Art is a direct reflection on someone's interpretation and expression of life. Sexuality is a huge part of our existence and our identity. Who says sex shouldn't be depicted in art? Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Rodin, Picasso, Warhol all had zero issues with it.

Then does anything depicting or insinuating sex fall into the Porn box? What is pornography? Most definitions agree that it's any media depicting graphic nude content or acts with the intent to elicit sexual arousal and desire. The focus may be more heavily weighted on either content than intent. Here is my problem with that definition and the two things I think they leave out: Mass Production, Distribution, and you can often throw in a third element: Accompanied by Similar or Optional Content

For myself, if those things are not in the equation, then it's reclassed as erotica. To be clear, I am of the opinion that erotica can and often does include sexual, sensual, and acts meant for arousal. But if it is a one of a kind piece of art (or limited editions) not widely produced and distributed. Nor is it displayed among additional options for similar material... then it is not porn. That is inclusive of works shown in a gallery exhibition among other works of the same genre. You can fight me on it if you wish.

Can All Three Be Art?

Of course! I have no problem with sensuality, sexuality, or sex in art. It's still an expression of life. Life begins with sex. You can't have human life without it. At least not the way nature intended! I'm not going all out and saying all porn is art, but yes, some of it can be made so, whether in print (literary, painting, photo), 3D media (sculpture), or performance art (video or live). 

Sure, there are ways that sexuality in art has been done that I can not relate to, sometimes depicted in ways that make me uncomfortable. But that's like everything else in art. The vast majority of it will not suit you. I've never heard any real critique of Italian artist Sandro Botticelli (Birth of Venus). However, I was Bogota, Colombia and saw an exhibit of Fernando Botero. A large woman in the museum left out feeling stigmatized by some of the other patrons. All art is not for everyone.

There is definitely a bad, ugly, and illegal side to pornography. I do not support under-age exploitation, human trafficking, blackmail, addiction, harassment, retaliation, violence, or any sort of activity that denies someone's privacy or civil rights. I'm not making a moral or religious argument. But I'm not going to be hypocritical and say my work is fine, but this other person's art is not just because I don't like it or it make me uncomfortable... without being violent or infringing on someone's civil rights.

I get asked about this topic often. I'd say it's easily Top 3. So I chose to speak on it in this format. I do not believe my word on this is the final judgement to be written into law. I may need to make clarifications, or even be corrected. I'd love to be schooled on this if anyone has more insight that I can consider.

03 January 2023

Five Years Running! Time for Some Changes

 

Art Model, Alba ©2022 Terrell Neasley 

My Travel Goal is to transform my 

DREAMS into MEMORIES

Another year has come full circle. Yes, that is correct. 5 years ago this month, I left on a jet plane, beginning a new life of travel that I anticipated might be for only 18 months, but I am much further along than that with no time frame for completion any time soon. Things are a bit different now. For one, I'm not in Vietnam, but I do plan to return there. After 30 months in that country, I finally made it back to the US. Presently, however, I'm in Costa Rica! Two... most of my plans since my return have been fabulously derailed due to a prior shoulder injury. I thought it was maybe a pinched nerve or damaged labrum. Turns out, I have a complete thickness supraspinatus tendon tear of my right rotator cuff. Surgery is scheduled for early February. I decided to bounce down south for a bit after Christmas while I await my surgery date.

I am not looking forward to this surgery, but if it is what I need then I will do what has to be done. I was asked to commit to 4 months of having my arm in a sling, as my surgeon believes this procedure will come with complications. That puts me in a fixed place until June. Hence, my apprehension. I initially expected to return to Vietnam in January!

Art Model, Alba ©2022 Terrell Neasley 

And that's why I'm in Costa Rica. I just wanted to come some place quiet to sit down and think. I have lots to consider for these next six months or so. Change is happening this year. I'm making several amendments to my life, to include banking, phone plans, and even computers systems! Yep. that's right. I am 89% certain I'm gonna switch from PC to Mac. More on that in a minute, but the priority it to adjust my service and product needs to fit my lifestyle and more adequately reflect my goals.

Banking is a major consideration when you travel the way I do. My bank n longer suits my needs. I've had a few customer service issues that have left me high and dry a number of times. It always dealt with policy more than human interaction, but I've been put in harrowing situations where the Grace of God carried me through. I don't need a brick and mortar bank. It's been years since I've had to go inside a physical branch. These banks don't usually offer competitive savings plans. Along with that, I've been paying needless ATM and foreign transaction fees. Many places abroad don't take cards and if you don't have cash, you're out of luck. I'm done with that! I'm turning my banking needs over to a few credit card providers that waive ATM fees. 

Art Model, Alba ©2022 Terrell Neasley 

I've been with the same cell carrier for more than 15 years. AT&T has ran their course with me so I'll be switching to T-Mobile. Partly because of a bad customer service experience and also because T-Mobile will cover me internationally in more places than AT&T. I'll also save some money while I'm at it. And saving money is of utmost importance when traveling. I have virtually no debt since I've started this journey. Bill expenses (phone, cloud storage, website maintenance, Netflix) are the main thing I have to pay. The first thing I did when I returned to the US was to rework my self-storage options. They'd increased in price from $80/month to just under $200 in the time I was gone. Now I am paying $80 again. 

With all these changes, I figured, What the hell? Might as well switch laptops and go Mac instead of PC? 

I change PCs every two or three years anyway. Macs are more expensive and you can't upgrade them after purchase. I hate that. But maybe I will buy a maxed out version and keep it for 5 or 6 years. That evens out the cost that I'd spend on PCs. It will have to be the MacBook Pro 16, but it's prudent to wait and see comparisons of the upcoming M2 processor against the current M1 Max. The performance might be negligible and there could be a significant price drop for the M1 processors to clear out inventories. That could make the M1 Max version hella attractive. Hopefully, we won't have to wait much longer than the spring for this comparison. 

Art Model, Alba ©2022 Terrell Neasley 

One thing I'm NOT switching is camera systems, however. I'll stay with Sony and upgrade mid to late spring, whenever I am done with my recovery. Will it be the Sony a7R IV or the a7R V? I think the Mark V is way more camera than I need! I won't be shooting 8K video! And all that AI-powered autofocusing may be overkill on my style of shooting and subject matter. It would be great if I was shooting sports (or fast moving subjects). Or if I were shooting wildlife and trying to capture the unpredictable nature of animals with a super telephoto lens. But that's not me. I'm usually shooting posed people or landscapes using center, single-point autofocus!

However, that being said, there are still other features I can take advantage of with the latest camera. One is the variable RAW file sizes! Another is a badass BIONZ XR processing engine which... 

"... offers up to 8x greater processing performance compared to previous generations, which enables faster overall performance, impressive image quality with wide sensitivity and dynamic ranges, and more fluent processing that's capable of handling a bevy of AI tasks and intelligent AF alongside imaging processes. This processing system also reduces rolling shutter and other motion distortions for clean rendering of moving subjects." 

I don't need it the same for sharp eyes or tracking subjects. What I do find outstanding is the Focus Stacking features that I can use with Macro Photography. Yet more still, I think I can appreciate several other aspects of this camera over its predecessor like the flip out LCD screen and the reportedly 8-stop image stabilization. But the question for me remains... Are those improvements worth the additional cost? That inquiry still remains before me. Sometimes, that cost difference can be $1,000 depending on sales promotions.

Art Model, Alba ©2022 Terrell Neasley 

02 December 2022

Decorating Your Home with Nude Art

 

Art Model, @Athena.Demos (IG), ©2019 Terrell Neasley

“Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.” 

—Charles M. Schulz

The art nude has been a factor in my life since long before I first photographed my first naked model out in the woods of Kentucky during graduate school. Prior to becoming a photographer, I started as an art nude model during my undergraduate years for drawing classes in both university and community art settings for 12 years. As a kid, it began simply as a curiosity. I didn't have information readily available to me regarding human anatomy or sex. The only thing I understood was how people felt about the nude form and it was 100% negative. That made me all the more curious.

As an art nude photog, you can rest assured, I had my house decorated with my own nude art work as a prevalent fixture in my home. Most people who knew me, also knew what to expect when they came a-callin'. When a girlfriend came to live with me, all of it was replaced with nude images of her, all over the house. 

If using artistic nudes in your home décor is something you are considering for the first time and you don't already have a reputation like me, so to speak... then let me help guide you on the road to decorating your home or office with nude imagery.

When using provocative art in your home or office, one must consider the reasons for your selections, the taste or style you choose, as well as the art medium. Even though I don't necessarily like it, I must acknowledge that considerations for the message your selections convey to visitors or clients can have an impact on your personal life and business. I hate, hate, HATE allowing outside influences dictate my life choices, but I can't always get around this. That's just life.

Art Model, Samantha, ©2010 Terrell Neasley

REASONS for YOUR SELECTIONS

You can think about this in two aspects. First, why do you desire to decorate your house in this manner? Family portraits, landscapes, and non-nude imagery might be an easier choice, right? Trying to examine your initial intent and motivation can help you pick out the art work you are looking for. It will direct you to the style you like as well as the art medium of choice for your walls or space. Not only that, you'll understand what fits and where for each room you choose to hang your nude art.

Your reasons likely come from other inspirations. Maybe you've seen something specifically hanging on someone else's wall or perhaps you have recently visited an art show/exhibition and the artist helped you imagine his/her masterpiece on your wall. They wanted to make a statement with their art and it's one you feel you can get behind and help get that message out. 

You could be looking for something new and different. Possibly, you are tired of the same old conservative wall-hangings and desire to shake things up a bit with something that commands all the attention in a room. Nude art will definitely accomplish this goal. 

Second, WHO and WHAT are important. If you come across a particular artist that you like... say, MYSELF for example. You like my work and make a conscious choice to support my art, then you have to look at my body of art and decide what pieces you like and you can have a Terrell Neasley on your walls! I run the whole gamut of artistic nudes... conservative to down right provocative or explicit. It'll be up to you to decide who's work you put on your walls and what range of provocativeness you feel you can stomach. 

Art Model, Jenny, Colca Canyon, Peru ©2019 Terrell Neasley

TASTE AND STYLE

Once you find your reasons, you can begin to look at the style of work. I left off in the previous paragraph discussing the range of provocativeness you desire. That also fits into taste and style, but there is more. You'll need to pick the location and decide what goes well with the current décor, furniture, and general flow of the room. Call it fung shui, feel, or energy of the space, but how your art nude choice will integrate into this space is important. Otherwise it just becomes gratuitous. 

Feel the tone of the room and think about whether or not this art selection will be black and white. How big of a space will it fill? Does it "fit" with everything else in the room? The artist's style can be a conversation starter as well as the nudity of the image. What kind of art nude will you choose? When a visitor enters the space, shall it dominate with presence? Or shall it be more subdued and surprise the viewer when they suddenly realize it's there?

A bodyscape image can garner familiarity and yet offer a new perspective. A silhouette may be safe, in that it gives the illusion of nudity without the revealing aspects. A topless portrait presents elegance, grace, and a timeless, classic style. Or perhaps it's abstract and leaves the viewer trying to make sense of the interpretation. I've had macro vulval imagery hanging up and only a few recognized what it was! And keep in mind, nude art is not simply for your master bedroom and please don't relegate it to bathrooms. 

Art Model, Anon ©2012 Terrell Neasley

ART MEDIUM

Nude art can be created in various forms. Most commonly bought are paintings of some type. After all, this is where art began, is it not. Somebody drew some stuff on a cave wall and sparked a new way to move our souls. But you might also collect mixed-media nude art or sculpture. You might have something that sticks with you for a particular reason. I'm a photographer. This is my love and photographs are what I'll stick with here. 

VISITORS AND CLIENTS

Yes, the part I hate most! I'm at an age where I want to do what I want and let people judge me as they will. But the fact of the matter is... you can do that in some cases, but in others, life is life. Pick your battles wisely. If you have thin skin, you may want to really think about the art you wish to display if you know visitors will come calling, see your work, and then go talk about you on social media. Maybe that is a good thing. When I had visitors, there was really nothing to discuss, because my reputation was already intact and carved in marble. You can talk about me if you want, but everybody already knows how I do. 

My clients readily visited my home. They saw what they saw. I have lost business on the matter before. Long before a commercial client even saw my wall art, a $6,000 non-nude gig that had the potential to elevate to $20K blew up in my face when a client's wife saw my website the night before we were to close the deal. She forced her husband to decline to sign my contract. It upset me, but I got over it and ceased to concern myself with the loss. I accept that I am not for everyone. I decline to try to be so. But you had better rethink matters if you know food on the table may be at risk. 

Art Model, Katie ©2007 Terrell Neasley

SELECTING YOUR NUDE ART

1. Find the spot where you need art on your walls and hang an empty frame there. See if that is the size you require and whether that is an appropriate spot to hang your art. Remember, you are not just filling space. You are accentuating the character and aura of your home. AND, not all nudes belong on a wall. Some do. Others are more suited for a book, such as those that illustrate a series of work.

2. Browse nude art and see if you can find an artist that suits your style and think about how well your selection integrates with the whole of room in that hanging space. Maybe find a local artist and get them to consult with you about what might hang on your walls. Decide on the temperament on the art. Maybe start with something conservative that emphasizes the shape, curves, and gracefulness. If possible, find three good images that match your tastes and tolerances.

3. Pay your artist. Get a signed copy of your artwork in the dimensions you require. Again, it may be wise to consult with your artist on hanging and lighting the image. Traditional frames are not always necessary. A print on metal looks just as great and requires no framing. Explore non-traditional ways to hang your nude art.

4. Experiment some more. Give it a week and judge again if your art nude selection fits with your home décor. If you decide it does not fit, change it and restart the process again until you can look at your wall a month later and find that you are still happy with your choice. If this is the case, then enjoy your nude art and explore finding additional space and art selections for your home/office. 


17 October 2022

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part 3/3

 

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

"The thing that's important to know is that you never know. You're always sort of feeling your way." 
~ Diane Arbus

I broke this series up into three parts for a reason. I wanted to use my first post to drive home the fact that those 4 realization points were imperative before any benefits from any tips could come to fruition. The next post dealt mainly with elements that involved a more direct focus on photography. However, this last post of the series has a bit more focus on the issue of mental health, itself. When you look at creative blocks, its your mental ability to cognitively contribute that's impeded. So, let me dive on into this.

Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

Tip #6 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Get a medical check up (and some rest)

If its been a while since you've had your last doctor's visit, maybe it's a good time to make an appointment. Getting a clean bill of health can be mentally comforting all on its own. At the least, you can get a doctor's recommendation to help you deal with stress, know what vitamin/mineral deficiencies you might be suffering from, or find out in advance if there is something more serious which can be caught in early stages. 



Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

If you can't do that, then at the very least, start taking a good vitamin supplement and get some rest. Spend a day or weekend doing absolutely nothing. And when I say nothing...I'm talking about getting up to eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom and that's it. Take a chill weekend. Prep for it. Prior to your do nothing day, get errands done, pay bills, and arrange for a baby-sitter if necessary. Do a staycation early in the week and get away for a bit. Whether it's just you or you and a significant other, do it. Netflix and chill.

Tip #7 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Spend some time with family/friends


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

Sometimes hiding away or going solo is not the better option. It can be just as important to remember why certain people are important to you and then treat them as such. Call them up and arrange some hang out time. Do the phone only if there are miles and miles of separation that makes eye to eye a bit challenging. Invite a friend (some friends) over and get some pizza and beer. Hang out on the back patio and just talk. Its not necessary to have to spend a bunch of money or make a big to-do about the matter. Relax!


"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Tip #8 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Take a day trip 150 miles away

This one is more of a task or assignment, but it definitely belongs here. Look at a map from where you live and plot out a sight, place, city, or landmark that is 150 miles away from you or the closest to it. Pick a date within the next week and go. You don't have to even bring your camera but at least have your charged cell phone. Nothing at 150 miles...do 200 miles. But now you've got 3 hours one-way to kill and beyond that gets into more than a trip you can make in a day. I like it out in Southern Nevada, where you can travel in any direction and see wondrous landscape of all kinds. You can head up further into Nevada, head south into Arizona, southwest into California, or Northeast into Utah. Any direction I go I can find a major State AND National park to visit. 


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

Tip #9 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Have sex (or at least exercise)

I wouldn't think it necessary to go into details on the benefits sex has on your life, but you'd be surprised. And I'm not talking about meaningless sex for the sake of simply having sex. For the purposes of this post, lets assume intimate relationship sex. But regardless, who's going to argue with me on this one? The health benefits are too staggering to ignore. You want to freshen your mind with a splash of creativity? Get with your partner and become awash in the dopamine and endorphins that will rest your body and heal your mental incontinence. Its relieves stress, helps you sleep better, helps reduce depression, and more. At least, that's some of the stuff I read in this recent Insider article, 14 ways sex is good for your body and brain. But do you really need an article to tell you this?


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

Tip #10 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Grab your camera and go shoot something

And finally, when it comes down to it, do the things that you can do. You don't have control over everything. You DO have control over somethings, though. And when you can't do the things you want to do, do the things you can. You may be blocked, but you CAN still pick up your camera and press the shutter release. You CAN get in your car and drive 150 miles to a location and explore it. You can tell your mother you love her and go pay her a visit. You CAN actually do a lot of things. Go. Volunteer. And if its taskings you need or assignments, I have that too and I'd love to share them when requested of me.


Art Model, Elizabeth ©2007 Terrell Neasley 

* BONUS Tip on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Pray

And sometimes you have absolutely no control what so ever. Sometimes any and everything you can think of crashes down like a house of cards set aflame. I had a school project due in a photographic final presentation. I was to photograph a couple in their mid-50's and it was to be a great project. For whatever reason, they bailed on me for our shoot. I could come up with nothing else and time was running out. At the end of my rope, I prayed about my predicament and honestly didn't really expect much. On my way back to my dorm room, I ran into Elizabeth sitting on a bench, whom you see featured in this blog post. I hadn't seen her in a year and even before that I didn't really know her. We had mutual friends, only. 

We talked briefly and said our cordial, "Hello...long time no see" to each other. As despondent as I was, I just wanted to get back to my dorm... Until she asked about my photography and did I have any need for any models. She turned out to be one of the best I have had the privilege to ever work with. Answer to prayer? Yes. Directly, so. Elizabeth is one of maybe 8 models, I call a God-send, because I had no control, no power, and no idea how I was going to get any of it done. 

So yeah... Prayer.

10 October 2022

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part 2/3

 

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” — Pablo Picasso

Now that you have given close and careful consideration to the Four previously posted Realization Points, let's get into some of those actual tips on dealing with Photographer's Block. There are a myriad of different taskings you can assign yourself. I have written more than a hundred just for the explicit purpose of speaking or writing on this before. But I want to challenge you just a wee bit differently here in this post. The goal isn't so much to just give you all the answers and have you mimic programmed robots that execute commands. The objective is two-fold, but they run together. I want to prime your pumps, so to speak, and get you into the habit of thinking. In the majority of these examples I give, it still leaves open room for your input, creativity, and values that are important to you. Here are the first FIVE, I'll challenge you with in this post. You can let these digest a bit before I do the last FIVE later on.

Tip #1 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Volunteer

One of the best cures for dealing with your own troubles is to help someone else out of theirs. Find a "Give Back" project and open yourself to it as much as you dare to. I won't tell you what to do and it doesn't even have to be in a photographic capacity. Volunteer somewhere that you feel is meaningful and that you know you can make a contribution. The specifics don't matter so much. Photography doesn't matter that much either. The reward should be purely intrinsic and your intentions completely altruistic. Start there and spend some time in this endeavor. When you are ready, pick up the camera and consider documenting this cause, but only when you begin to see the story in it.

I've spoken regularly about my efforts to help out NowILayMeDownToSleep.org which offers remembrance photography services primarily for little babies that don't make it long after birth. These are professional portraits done that mark a child's time on this planet much better than a birth/death certificate can do. Its likely the only portraits that will ever be done. I reached my limit with this program after about 5 years. Trust me. Its good to know your limitations. Now this is a give-back program that already involves a camera. However, there have been several more causes that I've taken up whereby I brought the camera in later. Search yourself and look for opportunities to give back.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley


Tip #2 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Act like there is no block

Yes, it sounds crazy, but think about it for a minute. First, staying positive about the situation is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself. Second, conducting yourself and your affairs as if there IS NO block is the ultimate in self affirmations that will help you actually BELIEVE there is no block. But lets take those two points of fact out of the picture for a minute. The third reason is that you can easily FORGET that you are blocked by allowing yourself some distractions. When you take the pressure off, you can bring in some much needed reprieve by catching a movie or spending some time with someone important to you. Before you know it, you're not blocked. See? Not so crazy.


"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." - Aris Moore

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Tip #3 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Get Desperate

Right. I know what you're going to say. This sounds like the opposite of Tip #2. Well, that's chiefly because it is. These are no systematic tips that you are supposed to methodically utilize one right after the other. If only one of these tips helps you, then that's all you need. Getting desperate is a trick I used to play on myself during my military days. When a task seemed insurmountable, but absolutely had to get done, I'd change the stakes. Which is to say that I'd imagine much more dire consequences if I failed at my mission. Failure became an unacceptable option simply because the mission perspective changed. I'd do the same thing in high school. I may have an assignment due for which I procrastinated till the last minute. Getting my ass whooped by my mom became the unacceptable option that made me desperate enough to put something on some paper and get an assignment turned in. You'd be much surprised to learn that many of my final grades on last minute projects where over a B. So if you have to, Get Desperate!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Tip #4 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Get a mentor

As self-promoting as this may be, you need somebody like me. I'm an ass-kicker. I'm going to be in your face and I will hold you accountable. That's not to say I go all out drill sergeant on you, but think of me like that big brother that honestly cares about your success and well-being. Because, I do. Finding a mentor like that is priceless. Well, let me not say priceless, because I do sometimes have quite a specific price. But once you got me, you got me. I've had several students that have paid me to teach them photography in my week long one-on-one courses. Its a rare thing to never hear back from them again and some have become very close to me. I'll get a call back from any one of them asking about advice and counsel and it doesn't have to even be photo related. Get a mentor like me.

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Tip #5 on Dealing with Photographer's Block
Get some gear

I worked at B&C Camera in Las Vegas on an on-call basis...maybe a day or two a week. They have a Rental department that is absolutely exceptional. It's been a while since I had worked there and there have been a plethora of new additions in all sorts of cameras, lenses, LED lighting, audio and video equipment, action cameras, you name it.

You can reserve Sony's FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens which is perfect for those outdoor sporting gigs, the Canon EOS C200 EF Cinema Camera for great video production, or a million different items in the Canon, Nikon, Sony, line-up. And there's plenty of  the latest Tamron and Sigma lenses to even mention. I'm not even saying you have to go out and buy your own gear. Just go online and reserve it, then pick it up at the store. Wanna play with a Nikon Tilt-Shift lens? Reserve it. Go get it. And see what it looks like. Then see what you can do with it! Get some gear!!

Art Model, Covenant ©2017 Terrell Neasley

22 September 2022

10 Tips on Photographer's Block Part I/3

 

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
"When I am stuck … I just search for excitement, but not too hard. It is when I find myself playing more than trying that I find my way out of a block." 
— Aris Moore

The pandemic has been tough on a lot of photographers, including myself. As a mentor, friend, instructor, and counselor, I often get calls asking for help, inspiration, and advice. I try to oblige in any way I can, and that's usually by first dealing with the attitude about the problem via a change of perspective and or perception about what's actually going on. I've noticed a few common origins to many people on creative or artistic mental blocks. So here are a few realizations you need to come to terms with before any tips can be meaningful. So I start with these FOUR Realization Points as they will be the focus of Part I of this 3-part blog series. Bear with me, as it might get a lil' bit preachy.

REALIZATION POINT #1: Its okay to put the camera down for a while.

There is no rule that says you absolutely have to ALWAYS be shooting. Life happens. Sometimes you may need a little bit of self healing before your creative outlets can manifest its work in your own self expressions. To pressure yourself when you are not ready internally only exasperates the issue. That'll feed negatively on itself. Its so much liberating to put the camera down and rest your mind, your soul, and your body. Get your center back.

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

For me, the camera helps me find my center. If that is the case for you as well, then I definitely invite you to pursue that option. However, my warning still stands. If you bring in the camera but also bring in the pressure...you'll ruin yourself on photography.

REALIZATION POINT #2: Get it out of your mind that everything need to be perfect.

This is another one that is so stifling that no wonder you are artistically constipated. Not everything is going to be perfect. You want to do your best with any endeavor you pursue, sure. But ofttimes, that perfect project comes up from an imperfect idea, that done well becomes more akin to perfection. There are times when I honestly had no idea that something would turn out the way it eventually did. I've shot something that I wasn't so pleased with only to see a client lose themselves in it and call it, "perfect".

Art Model, Merrie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Your goal should be to just go shoot and do the best you can in that moment. Drop back to fundamentals if you have to and begin anew. Try to understand and find out what or where the blocks come from and make adjustments. You might be looking for the next perfect concept because you've spent too much damn time looking at other people's art and end up comparing yourself too harshly on it. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. I can promise you, your work will develop faster and more freely when you rid yourself of the unrealistic burden of comparison. Just be you. Open yourself to your own world and your own calling. You'll find your ambitions will gnaw a hole inside you and your need for self expression will attempt to fill that cavity. But if comparison is the soil in which you sew your seed, you waste yourself.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley


REALIZATION POINT #3: Nothing says you have to do this alone.

In so many ways, I'm definitely a loner. However in those moments of photographic blocks, seeking help is a winning proposition. Check out the most miserable times in your life and see if one of your habits is to hermit yourself in your special room and shy away from people who "don't understand you". Okay, well I respect that. But if you want to get out of those doldrums, you're going to have to ask for some help. This may not be direct requests to someone. It could be indirectly by joining a photo group, taking a class, or finding a mentor. Hell, BE a Mentor! Okay, I'm getting into some of my actual tips to be covered in a following blog post, but you get my point.

Original ideas don't have to come to you in a dream. Talk to people. Better yet, LISTEN to people. Here their stories and challenge yourself to interpret them photographically. These aren't epiphanies that drop like an apple of inspiration onto your head. The opportunities are swirling around you like leaves in the wind. Just be still. Listen. Let the stories come to you.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

REALIZATION POINT #4: Don't worry about the money.

Granted. This is a hard one. Especially when you need to be about making that money! However, in terms of getting over photographer's block, the money issue comes into play when there is a lack of resources. You begin to believe that you can't come up with the perfect idea, like Mr. Pro-tographer down the street, because you don't have the resources, access, connections, or camera gear, like he/she does. Listen to me. If you spend your time looking over someone else's shoulder and using that comparison as the measuring stick to gauge your own ability, you're in a sad place. Stop doing that to yourself.

Conceptualizing a good project begins in the mind, and not with the camera in your hand (or the lack there of). Yes, there are projects that require resources and in some cases, a lot of money. But we're talking about just getting past the block. When you get the creative nectar flowing, the ingenuity kicks in that open up doors and possibilities. You'll begin to see how to work a budget or form partnerships and trades to get it done. Don't let money be the driving force though. Have your reasons, but don't let money be the primary impetus. When you aren't making money, then what? What do you do? Stop shooting...No! You improvise and figure out how to work with a Canon 60D that you can borrow from your neighbor's high school kid. Either way, you go get to work. And by the way... I profess to be no master at any of this. Its a progression.

Art Model, Justine ©2017 Terrell Neasley

18 August 2022

Should You Get the MACK WARRANTY Protection for Your Camera Gear?

Art Model, Faerie

 "I guess I invented extended warranties, because that's all we had to sell at Chrysler in those days."

So what's an extended warranty? Most of the items you buy will come with some form of guarantee that the product will function and operate as specified. They will usually offer this guarantee for a year with most newly purchased electronics. That's not too bad when you consider that if the product makes it that long, chances are it will perform similarly over the next few years with proper maintenance and care. At least, that's the usual case unless you are one of those people who's products last until the month AFTER their warranty expires.

Art Model, Katherine

An Extended Warranty can do a couple more things. It can extend this same level of guarantee by a third party, other than the manufacturer, OR it can also add more coverage not provided by the manufacturer warranty. For instance, in addition to the manufacturer's warranty, an extended warranty might also add ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE, which means in addition to the product is covered if it malfunctions, it is ALSO covered for repair/replacement if YOU damage it. So in this case, if you happen to be out shooting your camera and you damage if by dropping it, running it over in your car, (I have seen this), or because your inconsiderate numb-skull friend decided it would be funny to give you a shove while you were taking pics by the pool (seen that too).

So should you buy or risk it?

I'll say it depends. If you already have insurance for professionals on your gear, then maybe not. However, if you DO have pro insurance and don't want to pay the deductible if there is damage AND don't want your rates to increase... buy the extended warranty. I would be extremely leery of using homeowner's insurance. I once had a gentleman explain to me that he initially thought his camera gear was covered, however the insurance company denied his claim for the camera gear, insisting that he used it commercially. It didn't matter that he made no money at it. The gear he lost was of professional quality. Had he tried to recover damage on a $649 Canon Rebel, maybe his insurance would have covered it. But with a Canon EOS R3, plus 2 more bodies, lights, etc... they'd say no.


Art Model, Laura

If you know you are prone to mishandling gear, get the insurance. When you know you have a history of knocking things off the table or dropping things onto the floor, save yourself the heartache and spend the few extra bucks to protect yourself.

It also depends on what you are getting the extended warranty for. For an item that does not get handled much or carried around often, I may not be as inclined to purchase it. A camera or a lens, yes indeed, I am in favor of it. Because like UV filters, it has to do with who's handling the warranty claim as well as how responsive is the warranty issuer. B&C Camera has at least two people at all times who submit and monitor MACK extended warranties.


Art Model, Safia Sarai

I've seen worried consumers come in the store with busted gear. Maybe they don't have the receipt, but they can look up your gear by serial number and find out if you are covered. When these guys realize the proof of purchase can reproduced based off serial numbers, well, you should witness the sense of relief in their faces. They chose to purchase the 3-Year MACK Diamond Extended Warranty when it was offered. These are the ones that the B&C Camera owner chooses to use because it's most beneficial to the customers and it makes the most sense.


Art Model, Katie

The warranty doesn't protect against loss or theft. They can't help you if your gear has been in a fire. The warranty is for manufacturer malfunction and accidental damage. A lady drove over her camera and crushed it. She brought all the pieces back that identified the camera make, model, and serial number. She got a new camera as it was not repairable. Same model...brand new. How happy do you think she was? What happens if your camera is not repairable and has been discontinued for the upgraded model? You get that upgrade. Here is an excerpt from the MACK website:

Diamond warranties include standard coverage as well coverage for malfunctions due to accidental damage from handling (ADH).
This includes malfunctions due to liquid damage that were the result of an accident. All types of accidental damage, including liquid damage, will be covered at the discretion of Mack Worldwide Warranty.
Benefits:
  • Impact Damage
  • Manufacturer Defects
  • Sand/Grit Damage
  • Accidental Damage and Unintentional Abuse
  • Mechanical Malfunctions
  • Normal and Abnormal Wear and Tear
  • Lemon Protection
  • 2 Free CCD Cleaning for the life of the warranty (USA Only)

Art Model, Faerie

Did you see that last one? That's 2 free sensor cleanings over the life of the warranty. That's anywhere from $120 to $200 in cleaning right there. B&C Camera charges $60 per sensor cleaning, BTW and its done right there in the store by a specialists. Depending on the value of your camera that's either the full cost of the insurance or at least half of it in most cases. So is the peace of mind worth it? I think it is. A one-time payment and you're protected for 3 years. That's a good deal. 

Do it.